I have a lot of fun reading things about my country and its people. But some things are just so wrong, I have to correct some of it! 🙂
So let me tell a bit about my country and the Dutch people…
Some random facts
- Our country is about the size of a post stamp compared to most other countries. If I would drive from North to South, it will take me about 4 hours (depending on traffic and stuff of course) It’s as flat as a pancake and has lots of water.
- We have a population of about 17 million people. Our country is multicultural, which means that our people have a lot of different roots.
- My country is a kingdom and we finally have a king again after a lot of years. Our government rules the country however and is always a compromise between the biggest political parties.
- We were the first country to legalize same sex marriages in 2001.
- The Dutch are the world experts on keeping back water from the sea and rivers turning Netherlands into an Atlantis. The US government turned to the Dutch for help during the hurricane Katrina disaster.
- My country lays mostly beneath sea level. The highest point in Netherlands, Vaalserberg, is only 323 meters above sea level.
- Sport is much more popular than religion. About 4.5 million are registered to a Dutch sports club. Top three sports: football (soccer), hockey, and volleyball.
- Rotterdam is the second largest port in the world.
- The Dutch complain a lot. We complain about our jobs, the government, the weather ect. But although we complain, we are basically very happy to live in Holland!
- Tulips may be a symbol for Holland, they are originally from Turkey.
- Wilhelmus van Nassouwe, usually known just as the Wilhelmus, is the national anthem of the Netherlands and is the oldest national anthem in the world. Like many anthems, the Wilhelmus originated in the nation’s struggle to achieve independence. It tells of Willem van Oranje (William of Orange), his life and why he is fighting against the King of Spain. It’s a song made by rebels and has 15 stanzas. We only sing the first stanza most of the times.
- It rains a lot in Holland. Not as much as in, let’s say England, but a lot!
True or false?
Some random ‘facts’ I found on the internet. I really laughed my ass off while reading some! Let me clear some things up for you.
1.) Holland and the Netherlands are not synonymous. Calling The Netherlands ‘Holland’ is wrong. Holland is just one section of the Netherlands, largely the western coastal region, called North Holland and South Holland.
False. Although it’s true that 2 sections of my country are called North Holland and South Holland (I live in South Holland) it’s not true that you can’t call the Netherlands Holland. We Dutch do. If anything, the Netherlands is actually wrong because it’s a name from the time that Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg were one country called ‘The Netherlands’. A lot of Dutch people will say that they live in Holland. I do too.
2.) As a foreigner, don’t ever try to speak Dutch. Not only will you get an enormous headache but the Hollanders will not understand what you mean. Foreigners are supposed to speak English or Gibberish.
True. The Dutch are good at languages. Having conquered their own – they add English (75 percent have acceptable level of fluency); German (55-59 percent); and French (19 percent). And not forgetting, classical Greek and Latin is part of the curriculum for gymnasium high-school students. We will probably not understand you if you try to talk Dutch to us. 🙂 But I always like it when people try!
3.) Don’t buy wooden shoes. They will look completely ridiculous. Which is the reason they will try to sell them to you. A Hollander himself would not want to be found dead wearing them.
True. Of course you can buy them when visiting Holland, you are not a tourist for nothing you know! But we don’t wear them. Wooden shoes or clogs or “Klompen” have been popular in the Netherlands for about 700 years as industrial footwear worn by farmers, fishermen, factory workers, artisans and others to protect their feet from injury and keep them dry. And those certainly didn’t look like the ones they are selling these days!
4.) It is not necessary to fake interest for tulips, mills, wooden shoes or cheese. Every Hollander knows you came for the soft drugs and the Amsterdam red-light district. Both are widely spread and easy to find.
True. We know a lot of tourist come to Holland for the soft drugs and stuff. But we have a lot of interesting things besides that as well!
5.) Despite soft drugs being legal in Netherlands, you almost never see a Dutch person getting high.
Hmmm, it’s correct that we don’t smoke that stuff every day and are high every week, but most of us has at least tried it and a lot smoke on a regular basis. Come on! It’s legal! 😉
6.) Cops in Holland are mainly used to throw stuff at. If you get the uncontrollable desire to hit someone, take on a cop. No Hollander will pay any attention if you hit a cop, put a knife in his cranium or firmly kick him in the butt. Cops represent authority and not one Hollander recognizes a higher authority than himself. You will notice the fact that most cops are actually foreigners that were lured into this job.
False. Hahaha, this one made me laugh so hard! It’s true that we don’t like cops that much but that’s mostly because the Dutch are not a big fan of anything that even remotely tries to pass as a ‘authority’. We are a stubborn bunch of people who don’t like it to be told what we can or can’t do and we think that respect has to be earned, not giving out freely. We are very much in love with our freedom. But you can’t hit or kick our cops. Your ass will get thrown in jail.
7.) The most important way of public transportation in Holland is the bicycle. Feel free to take any bike of which you can pick the lock. Just don’t expect your own bike to be in the same spot where you parked it 3 minutes earlier. Hunting season for bikes is open 365 days a year. Good luck!
False. This one is also very funny! 🙂 Yes, we all ride bicycles and yes, a lot of those get stolen. But no, it’s not legal to take someone’s bike.
8.)There is a fast and foolproof way of embarrassing yourself in Holland. Enter a coffeeshop and ask for a cappuccino with a biscuit. Coffeeshops -remember this- do not sell coffee. They do however have a large variety of stimulating products at reasonable prices.
False. A so called ‘coffeeshop’ in Holland sells soft drugs, but they have coffee as well lol. But if you only are looking for coffee, we have a lot of cafeteria’s and they sell coffee and even tea! 😉
9.) Dutch beer has built up quite reputation for itself. Some people even drink it! Brewing is one of the things Hollanders are traditionally very good at. Once you’ve tasted Dutch beer like Heineken, Grolsch or Amstel, all other kinds of beer taste like tap water in a lousy hotel.
Hmmm, true. We have good beer, although I would recommend Hertog Jan!
10.) The Dutch are cold and harsh people.
False. We can come across as distant at first, but we are just observing if we might like you or not. We keep our distance when it comes to strangers, but we are warm people when it comes to our family and friends. It’s not very common to tell our friends that we love them. Dutch people are careful with the use of the word ‘Love’.
When meeting family, friends and acquaintances it is common that everyone gives each other three kisses on alternating cheeks. Men in general shake each other’s hand.
The Dutch are known for being straightforward (which is sometimes experienced as rudeness) and there isn’t a single topic that cannot be discussed in an informal setting. Just think twice before you ask the Dutch for an opinion, because you will get it without a gift wrap! We can be brutally honest.
Tips when dealing with the Dutch
Do not be easily offended. Like stated above, the Dutch are straight forward and will give their opinion without gift wrapping it. We also are quite sarcastic and will make fun of basically everything, even ourselves. We don’t mean to offend others though, but if you are easily offended you will experience a hard time dealing with the Dutch. 😉
Use a firm handshake. You will get judged by your handshake. If it’s weak, it means that you are weak.
Yes means yes, it’s a commitment. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
The Dutch are proud and don’t like to be told what to do. Do not try to tell the Dutch what to do. Unless you want them to do the exact opposite.
Dutch people ask ‘Why?’ or ‘Why is that?’ a lot. It’s very common and not meant to be rude or try to get into your personal business. Just straight forward and open for a discussion about nearly everything.
Many Dutch will want to talk the through arguments thoroughly first, and only then will they let bygones be bygones.
In Holland, women are allowed to do just about everything that men do. Hooray! 🙂
Dutch men don’t think their wives and daughters constantly need the protection of a man.
It’s not common to show a lot of emotions.
Dutch people don’t like to be touched. They maintain their distance while talking to you. Except when you are in their closest circle.
We have other cities than Amsterdam. No really, we do!
Amsterdam may be our capital, but it’s not that popular in the rest of Holland. I am born and raised in Den Haag (The Hague) and I am very proud that I don’t live in Amsterdam! 🙂
Lots of Love